Maruti has worked to make the Baleno AT appeal to a wider customer base. Read on to find out how
If you are an avid autoX reader, you have by now read our review of the diesel fueled Baleno. If you have not, here it is - Maruti Suzuki Baleno Diesel: First Drive.
We came back quite pleased with the new Maruti Baleno’s stunning design as well as ride and handling characteristics. We also appreciated Maruti for offering ABS, EBD and dual front airbags as standard across all variants along with the fact that top-end variants come loaded with a fair bit of kit.
We then went for a spin in the automatic model of the Maruti Suzuki Baleno. Maruti is offering the Baleno automatic only in the second-from-base Delta variant. As a result, it is not as well equipped as the top-end Alpha variant of the diesel Baleno which we drove earlier.
While the interiors remain much the same as the top-end variant, the Delta variant does not get the touchscreen CarPlay infotainment system. What you get instead is a dual-DIN stereo with an LCD display. Although the system offers USB, AUX, CD and Bluetooth compatibility along with steering mounted audio controls. You still get climate control, remote central locking, tilt adjustable steering wheel, front and rear power sockets. Although the leather wrapped steering wheel is gone and you get a manual day / night interior rear view mirror.
As you can understand the car loses some equipment in the Delta trim but still comes decently equipped. Let’s now get behind the wheel of the car and see how this petrol automatic Baleno drives!
Engine and Gearbox
The Baleno automatic is powered by the company’s 1.2 litre, four cylinder, K-Series petrol engine. In fact the same combination is found in the Maruti Swift DZire automatic as well. The unit develops an identical 83bhp of max power @ 6,000 rpm and 115Nm of peak torque @ 4,000 rpm in the Baleno, like in the DZire. The only difference here is that the unit in the Baleno returns a higher 21.4 km/l claimed fuel efficiency as per ARAI.
Driveability is mostly good from this engine gearbox combination under urban driving conditions. At low speeds the gearbox responds well to throttle inputs and the right gear ratio is selected in a smooth manner, at the right time. Going heavier on the right pedal though reveals the limits of the powertrain combination. The CVT’s rubber band effect comes into play. The engine also sounds quite coarse suddenly around 2,000 rpm. Post which it will rev towards the 6,000 rpm mark but gear changes and high NVH levels let the car down.
You can sense that Maruti has tuned the Baleno automatic to be a comfortable and efficient city slicker rather than give it a performance oriented nature. This makes sense considering that in its Delta variant, the Baleno AT is aimed to be more of an affordable model.
Ride and Handling
As mentioned in our review of the diesel Baleno, the car remains planted at higher speeds and takes corners with confidence. It does a great job of cushioning road undulations as well, in fact it has comfort levels of a heavier car. Only thanks to its light weight, it handles better too. In this Delta trim, the Baleno gets steel wheel rims shod with smaller 185/65 R15 section tyres. But its higher profile rubber makes for a slightly more comfortable ride over sharper bumps on tarmac.
The Baleno’s electronic power steering has also been given an extremely light setup at slower speeds to suit the laid back driving setup of the car. Feedback at slow speeds is limited to the way Maruti has tried to weigh up the unit. Go faster though and the steering response tightens up nicely, giving you reasonable confidence around bends.
Maruti Suzuki has tuned the Baleno automatic to have better characteristics of an urban commuter rather than a highway mile muncher. This reflects in the choice of a CVT autobox, light steering setup at slow speeds and commendable fuel efficiency from the powertrain. Factor in that it is available only in the Delta trim and it’s clear that its numbers that the company is focusing on with the Baleno AT. And when it comes to numbers, nobody knows the market better than Maruti Suzuki.
Engine: 1,197cc / In-line 4-cylinders / Naturally Aspirated Fuel: Petrol Transmission: 5-Speed Automatic / Front Wheel Drive Power: 83bhp @ 6,000rpm Torque: 115Nm @ 4,000rpm Front Suspension: McPherson Strut Rear Suspension: Torsion Beam Front Brakes: Discs Rear Brakes: Drums Tyre Size: 185/65 R15
Engine: 1,197cc / In-line 4-cylinders / Naturally Aspirated
Transmission: 5-Speed Automatic / Front Wheel Drive
Power: 83bhp @ 6,000rpm
Torque: 115Nm @ 4,000rpm
Front Suspension: McPherson Strut
Rear Suspension: Torsion Beam
Front Brakes: Discs
Rear Brakes: Drums
Tyre Size: 185/65 R15